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Flea market raising building funds for Our Lady of Guadalupe

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POSTED April 14, 2010 2:46 a.m.
LATHROP – Parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Lathrop have started a new fund-raiser for its church-building project: a monthly flea market.

The next one – the third since its inception shortly after the beginning of the year – is taking place on Saturday, April 24. It’s held every last Saturday of each month, said Father Francisco Naranjo, the church pastor. The gates open at 7 a.m., which should make diehard early-bird garage-sale enthusiasts happy, and continues until three or 4 p.m., depending on how early or late sellers want to stay, the pastor said.

“Usually, people rent a spot and then leave around two, three o’clock because, I guess, they get tired. But if they want to stay until 4 o’clock, that’s fine,” he said.

The church raises funds by renting out spaces to sellers for a fee of $10 for each parking spot that they want to occupy.

It’s still too early to tell how Lathrop’s first ever regular flea market is going to turn out. Father Naranjo said the first one, which attracted about 100 vendors, proved more successful than the second one which only brought in 30 sellers. But that was probably because at the first event, he announced it from the pulpit during his homily as a reminder, he surmised. The second time around, he was unable to do that because he was on vacation at the time, he said.

One does not have to be a parishioner to rent a space for the flea market.

And since this is a fund-raising effort, anyone wishing to make a donation for the building project will be greatly appreciated, the pastor added.

“We’ll be more than happy to accept donations. If (the people attending the flea market) want to give us some donation for the building fund, we’ll be grateful. But if they don’t want to, that’s fine with us,” Father Naranjo said.

The parish would like to get the church construction under way as soon as possible.

“I’m hoping that, perhaps, if we get a loan, maybe by the end of this year we’ll be able to start building something. But, you know, it’s not that easy – (it takes) too much money,” said Father Naranjo who started his assignment at Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2008. This was his first assignment as pastor. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1995, he served as parochial vicar in various parishes – first at St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca followed by St. Patrick’s in Ripon/Escalon, St. Bernard in Tracy, and St. Jude in Ceres. He is also a former chaplain for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stockton.

“I’m really hopeful that I’m going to be able to do something” toward making the church building a reality, he said. “I’m happy that people (in the parish) are very nice.”

Guadalupe is the youngest parish in the Diocese of Stockton
Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated as a parish by Bishop Stephen Blaire in 2002 on the feast day of the Patroness of the Americas, Dec. 12. Shepherding the fast-growing church membership at the time was Sister Gladys Guenther who began working on a new church building, a multi-purpose facility that would serve as a place for Sunday worship as well, during the years leading up to that historic day.

Prior to that, Our Lady of Guadalupe was a mission church sponsored by St. George’s Parish in Stockton in 1991. In the beginning, Sister Gladys and her “parishioners” met in various homes. Later, the church was able to purchase a residential building just a stone’s throw from the diocese’s property where the church building now stands. The single-story house which was later renovated to two stories also provided boarding quarters for Sister Gladys. The house was later sold after the multipurpose building was completed. After serving the mission church from 1994 to 2003, Sister Gladys went back to her order’s Mother House in Fremont where she is now president of her congregation. Father Dean McFalls then took over as the church’s first pastor. He is now pastor of St. Mary’s Church in downtown Stockton.

In project plans submitted by Sister Gladys at City Hall, Our Lady of Guadalupe would, at completion, comprise of an elementary school, a church, and a parish hall which the present multipurpose building would become in the roughly four-acre property just a few yards north of Louise Avenue on Cambridge Drive.

Currently, the church has more than 1,500 families – and growing. The number of Sunday Masses and its multilingual services reflect the multicultural makeup of the parish. The 8 a.m. and noon masses on Sundays are in Spanish, with the 10 a.m. service in English and the 5 p.m. in Korean. The vigil Mass on Saturdays at 7 p.m. is also in Spanish.

To reserve a space for the flea market, or for more information, call the church office at 858-4466. The church office is open Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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